Thursday, December 16, 2004

Safari, so good

The best cookbooks not only have tasty recipes but also lush pictures, vivid descriptions, and a charming story. At least that's my conclusion after upon The African Kitchen in the usually dry, scholarly university library. Written by Josie Stow, an Englishwoman and chef at an African safari reserve, and Jan Baldwin, the book makes Africa (and its food) look quite scrumptious - a decided contrast to the usual famine-war-epidemic images that tend to come out of the evening news. Between this and the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books, anyone want to go on safari in Botswana?

Having struggled mightily to get my digital camera to make my food look halfway decent, I'm most appreciative of Baldwin's gorgeous photos. Nothing looks to stagey or touched up, dishes are caught mid-recipe, along with the people preparing them, the natural surroundings, the tools. Brace yourself: the food has context.

I confess I haven't tried the recipes yet, and I have my doubts about some. A chocolate chip cookie recipe in an African cookbook? I don't get that either. But many of the rest sounds good, and there's a nice mix of recipes that sound easily accessible and others that have unusual ingredients and spices (that I'm anxious to try!) and methods.

Here's my personal favorite. Though it's unlikely that I'll be able to try it anytime soon.

"How to build a pizza oven out of a termite mound in under 2 hours" (p. 78)

You need:
vacated termite mound
brandy and Coke
Panga or large and threatening saw/hoe-type thing
Two hands
Edouardo Jalapeno

time plan
1/2 hour to build oven
1 hour to get fire started
2 minutes to cook pizza
3 seconds to eat it

1. Locate in your neighborhood a vacated (very important) termite mound of the correct size and shape, ensuring it has not been blemished in any way by an aardvark.
2. Check the surrounding area for any dangerous animals - specifically predators, but also anything with a trunk or tusks.
3. Hand the brandy and Coke, panga and shovel to Edouardo Jalapeno and take a seat while he proceeds to knock a hole in exactly the right spot on the termite mound, as if he and his ancestors had been doing for centuries.
4. Use the water to turn the soil from the mound into mud, then use this mixture to level out and seal the base of the oven.
5. Leave to dry - at midday in Botswana, this takes seconds.
6. Fine the firewood and build the fire in the now-dry oven.
7. Light it, then step back to admire - this fire is ready when teh coats are white and make your hand burn in under 10 seconds.
8. Remove the brandy and Coke from Edouardo and get him to push the coals to the side of the over: you are now ready to begin cooking.

Mutual Admiration Society, Food Blog committee

Once upon a time, Ladygoat count the number of food blogs on her fingers. She checked them regularly, read them faithfully. As their numbers grew, she ran out of fingers (and toes) and she got an RSS reader. But the food blogs kept breeding - a wine blog here, a group blog there, yet another Asian girl everywhere - and if she skipped a few days, the unread posts could mushroom into the hundreds. So Ladygoat gave up trying to keep track of them all and stuck to a few favorites.

And now the food blogs have come of age, as the Accidental Hedonist has started the long-overdue Food Blog Awards, which includes a plethora of yummy categories. Nominate your favorites and discover some new ones! (Very special thanks to Megwoo, who has her own fine food blog I Heart Bacon, who nominated our own humble Foodgoat for Best Overall Food Blog.) The quality and sheer number of fab food blogging is just staggering. Just don't read them when you're really hungry ... it makes the longing that much more painful.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

impious food

To amuse ourselves during a long care ride, Foodgoat and I speculated on what we do if we bought the church-turned-daycare (where I bought a light fixture) which is for sale.

We decided on a diner.

Potential name: Hail Mary, Full of Grease

Slogan: Welcome to the garden of eatin'!

Area where you wait to get seated: Would have a sign that says "Purgatory"

The special: Jesus-Burgers with a side of Cruci-Fries

Menu: Listed inside, what else, a Bible.
Other dishes: Jalepeno "Pope"-ers? Our Taco Who Art a Tortilla? Blessed Are the Po'Boys? Christian Duck-trine?

All You Can Eat Friday: Featuring endless loaves and fishes! Buy one supper, get the Last Supper free!

For the kids: Paper Pope hats.

Live Lobsters: The Moses "Let my lobster go!" special. Where the lobster arrives to your table nailed to a cross on your plate.

Dessert: A whole cake shaped like the head of John the Baptist? Maybe. A dessert for each of the Seven Deadly Sins? Definitely. Like a giant ice cream sundae for Gluttony. (Envy could also be a giant ice cream sundae, but you have take from someone else's table.) And before ordering from the dessert menu you have to eat an apple first.

What do you think?

And via the bitter shack of resentment comes the s'more Nativity set. Why yes, baby Jesus does look tasty.

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Turnip over a new leaf

Hallo guv'ner, and 'ow are you this fine evenin'? Care fer a bite o' somethin'? 'Fraid all I 'ave is this 'ere bowl of turnips.

Ahem. Excuse me while I get this Cockney bit out my system. Ooooow! The rine in spine sties minely in the pline! Come on, Dover, move yer bloomin' arse!

There now, I'm Eliza Doolittle'd out. Back to the turnips, which, being most identified with British and Northern European (rather than Filipino) cuisines, are new to me. I turned to this recipe:

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
3 lb turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges
1 can, or 2 1/2 cups broth
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
I melted a pat of butter (1/2 stick is too much for anything, really) and some olive oil in a heavy pot, then stirred in the turnips. The turnips peeled surprisingly easily, revealing a white crisp flesh that looked a lot like a potato.

Broth, sugar, and salt went in next; once it boiled, I reduced heat to simmer, covered, until turnips are just tender, 25 to 30 minutes. (Will you be proud of me if I told you that, finding that I didn't have a pot lid big enough for my skillet, I improvised by using a pizza pan? Well, I'm proud of me.) I boiled the turnips, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid was reduced enough to just glaze turnips, about 15 minutes, then topped with with scallions and parsley.

The result was perhaps a tad overcooked, since it ended up being somewhat more mushy than I anticipated. What was more surprising was how like potatoes it was like. It had a slightly different taste, but the texture was quite similar. The whole dish was actually good. I'm still a bit unbelieving. After all, "turnip" just doesn't have that "yummy in my tummy" sound to it. But what's in a name?

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

2 gift ideas

How cute are these sushi pillows?

I can't actually find this camping ice cream maker on the rei site, but I couldn't resist posting about it anyway. You add ice and rock salt to one end and ingredients to the other, roll the ball around for 20 minutes and out comes ... ice cream! Sweet.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

I'll drink to that!

Sunday was the anniversay of the repeal of Prohibition!

Will someone let 24 of the states know that? Ohio only allows direct shipment of limited quantities of beer and wine if they are not available at all in the state. But Ohio's antiquated liquor policies don't stop there: though they recently chucked a 70-year ban on Sunday sale of liquor, many local communities still disallow them. And what's with only being able to buy hard liquor at state-owned and operated liquor stores? Not to mention that a state-mandated 135% markup on each bottle makes Ohio the most expensive place to buy wine.

I say let the liquor flow! L'Chaim!

Monday, December 6, 2004

Not just food

My new doormat is made of coconut fibers. My new washcloth is made of agave cactus(from whence comes tequila) fibers. And the flax seeds that I've eating on all of my vegetables comes from the same plant used to make linen and paint thinner.

This has put me in the mind of finding alternative uses for Licorice Altoids. I don't know why I bought it ... I don't particularly care for Altoids, and I don't like licorice. And wouldn't ya know it, I don't like the licorice Altoids. Weird. Not good. If you must try them, for God's sake don't bite down on them right away.

Maybe the Altoids could go into the medicine cabinet for clearing up stuffed sinuses? Maybe they can be a cleaning product, like Coke is supposed to clean toilets. As for tins, there's no shortage of ideas out there: speakers, shrines, and more.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Fancy soup

Foodgoat has been eyeing the sea bass, which we've only tried once before, at the fish market for weeks, and finally could resist no more. I found this recipe, a seafood soup from the Caribbean coast of Guatamala, in the September 1988 issue of Cook's (the previous, and frankly, better incarnation of Cook's Illustrated) to use it in.


1 can coconut milk
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 lb fish fillets (red snapper, sea bass), cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lb shrimp
1 tablesppon oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp annatto
salt & pepper
1 medium banana, peeled and sliced
1 medium tomato, diced
3 Tbsp minced cilantro
After heating the oil in a large skillet, we added the onion and red pepper to saute until softened. Except we didn't see any red peppers at the market, so we used a green pepper. And a Hungarian hot pepper, because Foodgoat can't resist spicing things up. Opt for the red pepper only, and the soup would be more sweet than spicy.

Then the coconut milk, oregano (except we were out of oregano, so we used thyme instead), salt (and guess what? we used pink Hawaiian alaea salt that I almost forgot about), pepper, Hungarian paprika (so what if it's not in the recipe, do you think Foodgoat would cook without it??) and annato went in. Annatto, also knowns as achiote, is sometimes called poor man's saffron. It's a red seed that's used in Filipino (and Indian and Hispanic) food for its slightly bitter, earthy flavor and bright red color. It's used in the U.S. to color butter, margarine, and cheese. I had a packet, but had never used it before, and dumped a spoonful. Only later did I realize I should have ground it up.

The soup was brought to a boil and simmered on low heat until slightly thickened, but it was a little too thick so we added some water. Then the fish and shrimp were added. We used rock shrimp, which were small and easy to work with, since they came already shelled.

After simmering about 10 minutes, the banana and the tomato were added, and simmered 'til cooked, 5 minutes or so, when you then stir in the cilantro. And yes, that was a banana. Adding a banana to soup is such a novelty we took a picture of the event.

The result was quite the success. It was, as Foodgoat said, the kind of soup you might only have in an expensive restaurant: unusual ingredients, spicy (because of the Hungarian pepper), complex in flavor, and rather pretty. The rock shrimp tasted like regular shrimp, but with more flavor: shrimpy plus, you might say. The banana was the great surprise: its sweetness took well to the spiciness, and we wished we had added more than one banana.

Friday, December 3, 2004

Tomato, tomahto

Hey! It's true! Wrapping unripe tomatoes in newspaper does ripen them faster!

Out tomato crop this year was sad and pathetic, and not just because deer treated it as their personal buffet table: the summer never warmed up enough to fully ripen the few fruits we had on the vine.

It wasn't just us. It seems Florida hurricanes and California rains led to a tomato shortage, which led to doubled, tripled prices. At Wendy's, tomatoes are available by request only, while McTaco has rolling salsa blackouts. Hoard your tomatoes! Well, at least until the end of the month, when the next crop comes in.

Finally, in the medical marijuana arguments, SCOTUS justice Stephen Breyer evokes a terrifying tomato future:
"You know, he grows heroin, cocaine, tomatoes that are going to have genomes in them that could, at some point, lead to tomato children that will eventually affect Boston."
I can see the film now: "Godzilla vs. Children of the Tomato: Boston Destroyahs!." Bahhston children become freaky religious and bizzah onna-conna eatin' poppy-tomayto genetic mutants and battle foreignah Godzilla, who goes on a rampage in chahmin Hahvihd Yahd, overturning pahked cahs.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

random bo-link-link

-Someone has to say it: The Real Gilligan's Island reality show rocks. It's hilarious. But that's one touched-up picture of Donna on the website.

-If you go on a world food tour, don't gross out the world.

-You could start by not posting photo records like this: eating an In-N-Out 20x20. That's 20 patties, 20 slices of cheese, folks.

-Remember the grilled cheese Virgin? Now there's a fish stick Jesus. If I can just get a St. Joseph pickle and some 3 wise men fries, I've got this year's Nativity set and lunch.

-Even Romans needed rest stops. They didn't have Taco Bell, but Roman families on their way to GladiatorLand did stop for
"... a lot of meat - chicken and pork - as well as bread, rice, lentils and fruit. There were desserts of sweet cakes, cooked with sesame seeds and almonds."
-Not that we don't have enough to be paranoid about, but the EPA found rocket fuel in nationwide samples of milk and lettuce.

-Hershey's Kisses now come in 7, count 'em, 7 varieties, including dulce de leche and rich dark. Is dulce de leche the new black? 'Cuz I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

sauerkraut, improved

This week's adventurous purchase at the West Side Market was fried sauerkraut balls from Rita's, the Hungarian deli. Foodgoat loves sauerkraut. I find it tolerable at best. But I like the sauerkraut balls. Why? Because anything that's breaded and deep-fried tastes good.

Tryout Tuesday: a recipe edition

On the Tuesdays that we don't go scope out new restaurants, I've resolved to try new recipes. (A creature of habit, I seem to respond well to regularly scheduled programming.) The pile of old cooking magazines tagged with Post-It notes and a burgeoning cookbook collection (though it can't touch my mom's 300+ hoard) are crying out to be stained, splattered, and generally used.

The first dish of the series may or may not exactly count, because I've made the recipe once before. But it was a long time ago and this time I made it rather differently.

Here's the original recipe, swiped from the evah-so-handy epicurious (whose redesign is leaps and bounds better than the old one):

1/2 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon (generous) baking powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Whisk pumpkin, egg, salt, nutmeg and baking powder in large bowl to blend. Mix in flour (dough will be soft). Dip a spoon into boiling water to moisten & scoop up dough to drop in water. Boil dumpling until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to colander and drain. Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add dumplings. Sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer dumplings to bowl. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.
It was good this way, but I liked my revised way better. First off, I used fresh pumpkin. Believe it or not, I happened to have some in the fridge: last week, I baked a whole sugar pumpkin, mostly to see what happened, since I couldn't cut through the skin without fearing for my life. It cooked, I scooped, and that's all there was to it.

I used whole-wheat flour and didn't measure it once. I'm sure I used much more than the recipe called for. I just kept adding big spoonfuls at a time, and mixed until it looked dumpling-worthy, i.e. when the dough pulls away from the sides (this was the first time that description actually made sense to me ... I must be learning something from all those times I've watched Foodgoat make dumplings). No nutmeg, as Foodgoat dislikes it, but did use pepper, paprika, and parsley, which means I have half of a cutesy girl band. I used olive oil instead of butter, and forgot all about the cheese. Otherwise, the technique was the same.

The pumpkin dumplings actually turned out quite well. The whole-wheat flour gave it a nuttier sort of taste, and the pumpkin and savory spices went well with the fried kielbasa sausage. We had a fine photo but the camera didn't think so, since it corrupted it and refused to give it up.

Monday, November 29, 2004

post turkey day

Did everyone have a happy Thanksgiving?

I'm still full.

Of course, maybe that's because yesterday I had a big, splendid brunch at the Last Chance restaurant in Willowick, where the chef is the best beau of Foodgoat's cousin (who, ironically, is the pickiest eater in the family ... go figure). Everyone raved about the pancakes, Foodgoat gave his official thumbs up to the burger, but I ordered a plate of crabcakes and onion rings. There aren't many places you can get that in the morning, and I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity. It may be unorthodox, maybe but it was delish and most satisfying. I even got salad, cream of cabbage potato soup, and vanilla ice cream to boot. See why I'm still full? No wonder I fell asleep later during the shootout.

Another reason I might be full: serving size. I didn't do so well on the new Portion Distortion quiz.

I didn't do a bit of shopping on Black Friday (unless you count a box of donuts), but if I had seen them, I might have been tempted by these oh-so-festive candy cane shot glasses (via not martha).

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Tryout Tuesday: ZaZa

On the eve of my last day on the diet ... screw it. Time for some real food.

Enter ZaZa. Tucked unobstrusively into a somewhat faded strip mall, ZaZa had a lovely ambiance: dark velvet curtains, violet-hued walls, low lighting, and smooth jazz in the background. The cuisine was Nawlins'-style, my favorite kind. It was all very promising.

I declined dipping into the extensive martini menu, but Foodgoat did take adventage of Tuesday happy hour deals to indulge in a Guinness (on tap, too, Foodgoat's signal for his type of bar) to go along with a plate of calamari. It was a fabulous start: the battered and fried squid rings, piled high on a spicy, lemony pepper sauce was spectacular. The squid was light and crunchy; the sauce smooth and flavorful. It was probably the best calamari I've had; Foodgoat went so far as to say it was the best dish he'd ever had at a restaurant.

Foodgoat went onto a Bourbon Burger with sweet potato fries. The fries were good and crispy (I know because I kept stealing some from his plate). But the burger was a kicker: a massive one pound of meat, topped with mushrooms and red onions in a Dijon, bourbon whiskey sauce, on sourdough. Poor Foodgoat could barely manage to take half of it down. It scared him a little.

As for me, of course I couldn't turn down the Louisiana crabcakes with mashed sweet potatoes. The crabcakes came with a horseradish sauce, a cocktail sauce, and a hot pepper sauce, and a spicy corn salsa. This is a restaurant that doesn't shy away from the spices, for which we're quite grateful. The crabcakes were just delicious (even better the next day as a sandwich for lunch): crunchy on the outside, moist and sweet on the inside.

I think I have a new favorite restaurant in Cleveland.

Monday, November 22, 2004

the wishlisting begins

I'm a glutton for punishment: I've been poring over gorgeous photos of fried chicken and chocolate cakes in old cooking magazines like Food & Wine and Bon Appetit, handed down to me by a woman who was moving and didn't have room for them anymore. Eating Well, new to me, is rising up the list of favorite food mags as a result of its mix of accessible recipes and health news.

On the happy side, 'tis the season of covetousness!

I like this nifty tea set by sarah cihat, not just because of the most unladylike skull and crossbones, but because the china has been rescued from secondhand oblivion. Recycling rules.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Winter chili

Okay, so I had some French fries for lunch, along with my carrot and my cucumber. They count as fresh vegetables, right?

Meanwhile, Foodgoat's adventures continue unabated. Imitiation being the sincerest form of flattery, he was inspired by Igor's chili to try and recreate it. He's made chili many times, but this time he was inspired by Igor's version, and, imitiation being the sincerest form of flattery, this time he used baked beans, an entire can of hot banana peppers, ginger, and roasted peppers. After a whole day of simmering in the slow cooker, Foodgoat also threw in peas and corn for good measure. The result was hot, spicy, and good. Different, filling, and perfect for a cool November night. Chili is never the same dish twice, and yet it's almost always good.

As if that wasn't enough, Foodgoat later broke open a box of Haagen-Dazs ice cream. Pistachio, if you must know. A previous pistachio doubter, he was pretty enthusiatic about this one, reporting it to be not too sweet, incredibly earthy, and a meal unto itself, which may be why he never liked it as a kid.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

detox diet continues

I'd kill for some carbs right now.

Actually, the anti-allergy fast is going well. I'm eating a lot of the few foods I can eat, so I'm not too hungry, though my digestive system seems to be angry at me for the sudden onslaught of fiber. It was torture, though, going to a work event yesterday and seeing tables upon tables of large, soft muffins ... chocolate muffins, blueberry muffins, banana nut muffins ...

Instead, for dinner I had a big plate of salad greens with olive oil, flax seeds, and sea salt.

Which isn't to say that it was a bad dinner at all. The greens were fresh, the olive oil was fine, and I now have a deeper appreciation for the superiority of sea salt. At lunch I have to use the regular salt in the cafeteria, and it just doesn't taste nearly as interesting, nearly as complex, nearly as good, as a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.

By the way, the new Frontline episode on Wal-Mart is excellent.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


It's been a rough couple of weeks for me. The re-election, the start of cold Cleveland weather, and then Judith on Joan of Arcadia dies, then Devon from Crossing Jordan gets killed off too.

And to top it all off I'm still trying battling a mysterious skin ailment, which at various times has been self-diagnosed as an allergic reaction, leprosy, scarlet fever, and flesh-eating disease. The doctors think it's just eczema with a staph infection, but they are from Kaiser and as such are practically useless. So as a last resort to clear up freaky rash, I started a hypoallergenic diet.

This is no small undertaking for Ladygoat. This is 10 whole days of only fruit for breakfast, and steamed or raw vegetables for lunch and dinner. No coffee, no dairy products, no acidic fruits like oranges or tomatoes. No bread or meat or chocolate. No spices, just olive oil and sea salt. This from someone who can barely give up Oreos for Lent every year.

It's day 3. I've had more broccoli than I care to disclose. And the 10-year old grilled sandwich with the Virgin Mary miraculously on it looks mighty good right now. But my hands looks almost human.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veteran's Day

Though we here in Ohio didn't get so much as a day off (my mom in CA got two days off), today is Veteran's Day. Honor the American soldiers and heroes by reading their stories at the new Veteran's History Project, learing about struggles of forgotten vets, and supporting those who sacrificed.

Better yet, give a little something to our guys & gals overseas now. Send your grocery coupons to their families, then send a care package to the troops for the holidays, which needs to be sent in the next few weeks to ensure that they arrive in time. A few weeks ago, I heard a local military mother speak about how her 6"3" son in Iraq so often didn't have enough to eat because contractors do not deliver food consistently when conditions are dangerous, that he dropped down to 130 lbs. Frequently requested foods: beef jerky, kool-aid powder, energy bars, non-dairy creamer, canned tuna, hot chocolate, canned fruit. The military isn't so much known for their fine gourmet meals, so let's help a soldier out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Tryout Tuesday: Day and Night

Last Tuesday morning, before going to vote, Foodgoat and I had an impromptu Tryout Tuesday breakfast at Eat at Joe's. It's a tiny neighborhood greasy spoon tucked away in a strip mall down the street. The waitresses seem to know all the customers by name and walk around with a pencil behind their ears and a coffee pot in one hand. That's my big pile o' blueberry pancakes and side of hash browns, and that's a patty melt that Foodgoat's digging into at 9 in the morning. Definitely one of the most filling breakfasts we've had in a long time (usually we just settle for coffee), though it hardly prepared us for the heartbreak which was to come later that night. Clearly, these were more hopeful and optimistic times.

It's a nice place. The food is plain but comforting, and the atmosphere is as down-home and right-neighborly as it gets.

In contrast, yesterday's Tryout Tuesday meal was a dinner affair. Foodgoat agonized over the decision, but after driving around in circles for a while, we ended up at Arrabiata's, a Mayfield Heights Italian place favored by Foodgoat's relatives. Just in the nick of time too: we managed to catch their Early Bird menu. In this case, the early bird gets great, big, fat worm: you get soup, salad, side of linguini marinara, beverage, an endless basket of warm bread, AND your choice of a wide variety of tasty Italian entrees, all on a white tablecloth and with attentive, excellent service, for a mere $10 a person. All just for showing up before 6:30. No wonder the place was packed!

Here's Foodgoat in the mood lighting (why disturb it with flash photography?) with his Chicken Marsala (which he give a thumbs up!).
And this is my cheese ravioli, which was hot, cheesy and delicious, just the way I like it. The portions were almost just the right size, maybe just a little bit too big, though I won't complain: we managed to eat every last bit (plus two extra bread refills ... I never turn down free bread).

Definitely worth a repeat visit :)

Friday, November 5, 2004

Frogs and Ravens: A Note to Offended Readers

From Foodgoat to his family:

Please read this blogger's post. She expresses, much better than I have been able to, how I felt and how I feel now. You must also understand what a blog is: an online journal written in and for the moment. Again I ask you to read this, for any unintentional hurts you might have felt.


p.s. It's kind of funny my friends didn't get upset at all.

Foods for depression

complex carbohydrates (boosts serotonin activity in the brain):Broccoli, Rice, brown, Potatoes, Blackberries, Pasta, wheat, Squash, winter

folic acid (deficient in people who are depressed): Asparagus, Beets, Spinach, Avocados, Brussels sprouts, Bok choy, Cabbage, Savoy, Beans, dried, Chick-peas, Soybeans, Lentils, Oranges, Peas, fresh, Turkey, Broccoli

magnesium (acts as a muscle relaxant): Spinach, Chocolate, Pumpkin seeds, Oysters, Sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, Amaranth, Buckwheat, Avocados, Quinoa, Almonds, Barley

niacin (nerve cell function, relieving depression as well as feelings of anxiety and panic): Rice, brown, Chicken, Pomegranates, Tuna, Lamb, Wheat, Turkey

omega-3 fatty acids (a building block of human brain tissue): Salmon, Trout, Tuna

wrapping voters in the warm rhetoric of a Republican security blanket

It is now three days since a slim majority re-elected Bush, despite what I and many others believe to be serious and misguided policies. While Foodgoat’s anger has loosened his blogging tongue, my sadness and confusion has stifled mine. I have been trying to blog, trying to put in words my questions, my convictions about this President, and my fears over a Republican-controlled government. But especially, I’ve been trying to come to grips with the turn of the American people so far to the right. It is this reactionary political and cultural climate, more than the details of either candidate or their campaigns that concern me. What is it that Americans want?

Over and over again in the past few days, what I have heard is that what we want, it seems, is “security,” “strength,” and “values.”

I’m still struggling to understand what these mean, because they don’t seem to refer to specific policies, but to a broader, overarching feeling, more visceral than any one issue. It only seems like these are only code words for a generalized desire for certainty, any kind of certainty, in an unstable world. While it is politically correct for everyone to give lip service to racial, ethnic and cultural, religious, and sexual diversity, I suspect that at the heart we find difference and plurality to be troubling things. We fear they introduce uncertainty, and that they signal weakness. The freedom of choice we have in so many things may be liberating or it may be paralyzing. When the industrial and manufacturing jobs abandon the cities they built for foreign soils, when the family farms sell out to multinational agribusinesses, the freedom of rebuilding new economies may leave us with nostalgia for apple pie and Mayberry. When the common enemy that bound us together for over half a century collapses under the weight of economic overspending, we may wonder, like a new divorcee after a contentious but stable marriage, where we go from here. When women want to marry women, when two men adopt children, we may wonder what ever happened to the Cleavers.

Every generation of the modern era, as technologies and the accompanying practices become obsolete with ever-increasing frequency, has felt the burdens of facing brave new worlds. In such times security may mean not only missile defense systems but also familiarity. Strength may not only be unwillingness to concede misjudgment but also a façade of stability. And morals and values may be but a flickering, powerful memory of when men were men, and America was great.

The trouble is that you can’t go back. The world no longer looks as it does on the board of Risk or on Axis and Allies, if indeed it ever did. And in a world where it is the multinational CEOs and IMF economists that increasingly determine the status of our jobs, where the euro is fast rising over the dollar, where the implications of worldwide environmental exploitation are hitting closer and closer to home, where we can recognize the injustices of earlier times, I don’t believe we should even try.

And yet that’s what I see happening.

I know my anger

I believe I now understand why I am so angry at this past election. I am angry at what happened to the Republican party- I am mad at them for no longer being a party that is about protecting the constitution and gaining profits. They have become an extreme party – they now have become the Religious Right. It wasn’t about the economy, medical costs, or even tax cuts – it was ALL MORAL issues. “Jesus Christ, we can’t have two men fucking and having the same rights as me. Those damn terrorists think their god wants us dead – well our God is going to kick their asses.”

GOP what has happened to you?

We Dems have extremes too – damn PETA and tree hugging nation. BUT we didn’t bow down to them – if fact, we pissed them off so much they started their own party.
The GOP knew they couldn’t win by being a moderate party, so they went to the extreme. They used FEAR much like the preacher uses Hell to get people to do their bidding. This election had nothing to do with Kerry – it could have been anyone, and the GOP would have portrayed him/her like the serpent. “You can’t trust Kerry – he turn over control of our scared country to the rest of the heathen world.”
So please, if there is any republican still reading, PLEASE take back your party. The religious right should scare the hell out of you.
And to you Dems, I know some of you are upset about how we ran our campaigns – that we didn’t attack more. I for one am glad we didn’t. To become that.. to win… isn’t right [ or left ;) ]

Thursday, November 4, 2004

I still hate you

Day 2. Do I feel any better about the world? fuck NO. I still feel a great deal of hate to all of those idoits out there. Food is far from my mind - in the past 36 hours I only ate some bread late last night.

Today's rant: During the camPAIN - the Bushies spread FEAR. Fear that we are going to be attacked - and fear that if Kerry was in charge you were going to DIE. Why? voters, why did you buy this? Bush was only being a Fucking terrorist. Holding YOU (not fucking me) hostage to vote for his ass. Sure, it is easy to call someone of a different religion / living in a different part of the world a terrorist - because it sounds scary. But Bushies ran terrorist kinds of policital ads.

By the way - WAR on Terrorists? What the hell is that - like the war on Drugs. A war that can't be won because it isn't a WAR!!!!! You declare wars on countries, not ideas. FUCKING IDOITS!!! I am declaring WAR ON HAPPINESS... Because with bush in charge this country will see less joy in there lives. 50% of the people can't believe he was re-elected (unhappy) the other 50% are so scared that they cannot be happy. So I guess our WAR is going well.

Other little rant: sticker ribbons on cars. the stupidity is so obvious.


Wednesday, November 3, 2004

U.S. you make me sick!

Jesus, people- what the hell is wrong with you!!!! After 4 years of this crap, you want 4 more. What the hell are you thinking - oh, wait you are incapable of thinking. You just hear what you want to hear- thinking is beyond your abilities.

To Ohio: my beloved OHIO- why? oh why? Cleveland is great- the rest of you are assholes! Get you heads out of your own asses and learn a little about what it is to be a human being.

To my friends and family: Fuck you.... that's right just fuck you. don't call, don't write, just leave me alone.


Friday, October 29, 2004

More celebrity sightings!

Instead of a quiet, peaceful lunch in front of the art museum, last Wednesday we spent lunch with P. Diddy, Mary J. Blige, and Leo DiCaprio.

And everyone else at the "Vote or Die" rally.

P. Diddy was channeling the Rev. Jess Jackson, except with threatening slogans, Mary J., I'm sad to say, was a rambling idiot, and Leo sounded like an earnest 7th-grader giving a school report. Calls for the candidates to concern themselves with poverty and urban blight got perfunctory "woo hoos" but the issue of finding jobs for graduating students got wild "WOO HOOOOOS!" This is Case, after all, not Berkeley.

I thought they were giving away chips and sodas, but it turns out they were charging for them. Feh.

Fortunately, someone from Terra Chips, makers of gourmet root vegetable chips (like taro, sweet potato, yuca, batata, and parsnip), was there giving out free samples. I tried the Zesty Tomato, which was flavored with tomato, Worcestershire sauce and celery. The chips are thicker and harder than ordinary ones, and it was a bit salty, but otherwise quite good. The flavor was a tad overwhelming, but it's something different.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Tryout Tuesday (on Thursday)

One day, driving in the car, Foodgoat and I tried to come up with a list of the best, the most recommended, the not-to-missed Cleveland restaurants.

After 10 minutes of struggling, we only had one place on the list.

What kind of food-lovin' gourmets are we? The kind that don't go out to eat very often, and when they do, the kind that always go to the same, familiar places for the same, familiar dishes.

Well, I'm fixin' to change that. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Hence begins Tryout Tuesdays. Every other Tuesday, we will venture into a new restaurant. We'll take turns choosing the experimental location, no questions asked.

The inaugural dinner (put off for two days) was my pick, and it was John Christie's Tavern down on East 185th. Why? Because Cleveland Scene said it had the best pierogi dinner, that's why.

The Tavern has dark wood booths, gnomes in one of the windows, and a cozy, neighborhood-y atmosphere. Foodgoat ordered the pierogi dinner: 3 big, heavy, but delicious potato and cheese pierogies. It's status at Cleveland Scene is much deserved.

I went out on a limb and tried the Cincinnati Chili, which is just chili on top of spaghetti, with cheddar cheese and sour cream. It was good, but not as good as the pierogies. I enjoyed the basket of onion rings much more, which had a yummy batter around real onion.

Mmmmmm ... onion rings.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Liberal Celebrity Sighting!

What could get me out of bed at 8 on a Sunday morning? Why, a training, of course. I need to mobilize!

Oh, and a chance to be that close to Robert Redford. (Chad Lowe was there too but who's he, anyway?) He was there as part of Bring Ohio Back, which had Martin Sheen and John Glenn in town too, but I didn't get to see them.

Didn't get a chance to ask him if the Natural is dead or alive at the end of the movie though, which would settle a long-running debate between Foodgoat and I.

There was, disappointingly, no food present. I did have a big Starbucks coffee, which tasted just noxious, and a chocolate cream cheese muffin, which I put in my pocket and promptly forgot about, so that will be breakfast for me tomorrow.

Friday, October 22, 2004

more random news

Peruvians are trying to promote giant guinea pigs, a traditional meat in the rural Andes, as the newest delicacy for Americans. They say it tastes like rabbit. [via the daily grail]

Just when you think every angle has been covered ... In Berlin, the new restaurant Sehnsucht ("Longing") employs bulimic waitress and an anorexic chef, has an advice center and a refuge, and calls rack of lamb "Ravenous Hunger." [from Right This Way]

Posted above the napkin dispenser at the University of Chicago Divinity School Café [swiped from farkleberries]:
"No matter how many napkins you take, your life will still be a mess. Please take only one or two."
You have to hand it to poor Martha Stewart, she always seems to find good things. As she used to say, when life hands you a minimum-security prison camp, make crabapple jelly. [thanks to the Food Section]

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Who's that clean-cut young man in a striped pink button-down shirt ... and blue jeans? Hold on to your hats, kids: it's Foodgoat himself. I know it's hard to recognize him when he's not wearing black shirts with black pants, his daily uniform since he was 16, but never fear, he hasn't gone conventional: he's protesting.

His place of employment, or rather, its new and uptight CEO, recently resurrected an antiquated dress code from the 1977. No jeans, ties preferred on men, no bare legs on women, no artificial nails, two earrings max per ear. While Foodgoat, like all of us, appreciates a smartly-dressed colleague, he resents an employer that actually hires fashion police. Especially since he works in a lab where no one except other lab monkeys might see him. Especially when at the same time they cut health benefits.

Hence begins the Rebellion.

Fruits of paradise?

It being Ramadan, I seem to be on a Muslim streak. Today's factoid comes courtesy of a New York Times op-ed several months ago. It seems that the 72 black-eyed virgins promised in the Koran to martyrs for the jihad may in fact be a mistranslation.
The Koran is beautifully written, but often obscure. One reason is that the Arabic language was born as a written language with the Koran, and there's growing evidence that many of the words were Syriac or Aramaic.

For example, the Koran says martyrs going to heaven will get "hur," and the word was taken by early commentators to mean "virgins," hence those 72 consorts. But in Aramaic, hur meant "white" and was commonly used to mean "white grapes."

Some martyrs arriving in paradise may regard a bunch of grapes as a letdown.
My idea of paradise does not include white grapes, but it does prominantly feature chocolate truffles, perfectly ripe mangoes, apple strudel, sticky rice and Filipino languanisa, vanilla bean lemonade, a large roasted pig, cinnamon toast, and churros.

I wouldn't ask for 72 virgins, but a couple of tap dancers would be nice.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Hey baby, how 'bout a date?

Ramadan marches on, and traditionally, the first meal you have when the sun finally sets is dates and milk. Dates, fruit of a type of palm tree (which is probably the biblical tree of life) and the staple food of many Arab tribes since the dawn of civilization, look and taste like giant golden raisins with a big seed in the middle: wrinkly, slightly sweet, and chewy. It's a tasty snack, and I'm sorry I only bought four of them at the market.

I ate them for lunch straight up, but I wish I had saved one to eat the popular way: replacing the pit with a lump of butter. Butter, as we all know, makes everything taste better.

Monday, October 18, 2004

E! True Cereal Story

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this cereal box is worth this hilarious post on This Afternoon in Drama about the background story behind something claiming to have "Tastier Twigs!."

You know you're in for a good story when it starts,
"Patty was a Schizophrenic, and one of her most dominant alternate personalities was that of a fifty-something Filipino man named Tuazon...."

Two unrelated food news

One stewardess (excuse me, I mean flight attendant) engages in her own In-Flight Survivor by living off of airplane food for an entire year [from Right This Way]
She took the fruit left on the unused breakfast trays, cereals, yogurts, bread rolls, and made sandwiches from the leftover deli platters. She had the most impressive-sized flask and was a walking ad for Tupperware. ... She had lost 40 pounds, estimated her grocery bill savings at $9,000, and was planning to run a marathon in a couple of months.
That can't have been tasty. Unless the food is much better in first class. I certainly wouldn't know.

I lost what little interest I had in the baseball playoffs waaaay back when the Angels fizzled. But I liked reading what the respective mayors have wagered on the series.

If Los Yanques win yet again (grrrrr!), the Boston mayor concedes ...
An authentic New England Clam bake for four including lobsters, steamers, shrimp and clam chowder from Yankee Lobster; 10 lbs of Pearl Country Club ¼ lb. all beef natural casing frankfurters; one "You're a real winner" bouquet of balloons from Geneva Balloons; one case of Harpoon IPA; a case of Sam Adams Boston Lager; one case of Lobster Ravioli from Serino's in Hyde Park; "Congratulations, watch out next time" marble cake with white butter cream icing decorated with grey and blue pin stripes and Yankees logo from Dutchmaid Bakery; one case of coffee cake featuring red white and blue Patriot Coffee Cake from My Grandma's Coffee Cake in Hyde Park; Boston Cream Pie, the official dessert of the State of Massachusetts, from the Omni Parker House Hotel, where it was invented; Reverse the Curse Cookies from the Dancing Deer Baking Company in Roxbury; 2 pounds of homemade milk chocolate baseballs from Phillips Candy; 2 gallons of Boston homemade creamy ice cream; a dozen Boston Pretzels, homemade angel hair pasta dinner fine linguini noodle served in "RED SOX" clam sauce from Spinelli's in East Boston.
Comparatively, if Boston can shake off the Curse of the Bambino, they get ...
2 pounds each of pastrami, corned beef and brisket, a dozen knishes, three loaves of jumbo seedless rye bread, two pounds of mustard and a bucket of sour pickles, a couple of cheesecakes from world famous Juniors Restaurant in Brooklyn.
I think Boston wins the tasty wager battle, hands down. New York could have at least thrown in a pizza, too. [via gothamist]

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Happy World Food Day!

(thanks for the food museum blog for the head's up)

And biodiveristy is the theme. First, didja know ... ?
People depend on just 14 mammal and bird species for 90 percent of their food supply from animals. And just four species - wheat, maize, rice and potato - provide half of our energy from plants.
or that ...
FAO estimates that about three-quarters of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops have been lost over the last century. And of 6300 animal breeds, 1350 are endangered or already extinct.
I didn't either.

So to celebrate biodiversity, I picked up four foods I've never tried before at the West Side Market: dates, fresh figs, ugli fruit, and green bamboo rice. Stay tuned for my reviews!

But today I make a particular plea for the banana. Bananas aren't endangered, you may scoff. Bananas are ubiquitous, available all year, at every grocery store. And yet one day when I was in the Philippines, my dad and uncle waxed nostalgic about the dozens upon dozens of banana varieties they remembered from their youth now increasingly scarce. Not only are many interesting varieties being lost, but even the familiar, far more common variety of banana, the Cavendish, is being threatened with extinction in ten years ... because of a lack of genetic diversity.

So look for other banana varieties. Try a plantain, for instance. And don't keep bananas in the fridge.

Friday, October 15, 2004

back, and with pretzels

My blog, how I've neglected you. It's only now, however, that I've been able to type (and thus blog) comfortably, suffering as I have been for the past two weeks with a horrific allergic reaction to tea tree oil. Remember, my sensitive skin friends: patch test, patch test, patch test. Or you too may end up, Mummy-like, with both hands wrapped up in gauze.

In any case, I'm slowly returning to normalcy, albeit without any fingerprints. I flirted briefly with the idea of fasting during Ramadan, to thank the Higher Power that my affliction wasn't flesh-eating disease after all (sometimes self-diagnosis just isn't a good idea), but who am I kidding? I have a hard enough time fasting during Lenten Fridays, let alone fasting a whole month during the daylight hours. And if I don't eat breakfast I get very sad. And if no one else is fasting with you, it's not nearly as interesting. But I will cut out the junk food. Or at least, I'll eat less of it.

The first thing to go will be the Snyder's of Hanover Buttermilk Ranch Pieces. Sounds tasty, no? No. No. Like any good American I love me my Ranch-flavored snacks, but this was just weird.

I recommend, instead, the Honey Mustard & Onion pretzels, which are addictively good.

By the way, if you've ever wondered what I'd be like if I started talking back to the little bird in my mouth and the monkey in my brain, think Mad Pruner of Buena Vista Park (via SFist.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Scavenging along with the wolves at the VP debate

Veganism is weird enough, but freegan? Not only are they not eating cheese, they're getting fruit from dumpsters.

While I'm disgusted by the idea of a salad from a plastic bag from the darkened alley behind the grocery store, I too have been known to scavenge for food. I have a tendency to haunt the refreshment table after events held here at the university. It's a habit picked up back in college, when many a poor, starving student sat through arcane speakers or wandered blankly through new art exhibits just to get at the table of free pizza, brie cheese or mini-quiches.

Just last week dinner (a surprisingly taste pasta salad with artichoke and sun-dried tomatoes) came courtesy of a work meeting.

But as I learned working with John Edwards advance press for the VP debate yesterday, those piddling college refreshments got nothing on the leftover spreads for media people. You really want to eat well for free? Join up with the media corps. Reporters and journalists get treated to much better food, and there were always tons of food left over.

Just look at the lunch (I think catered by Executive Caterers) the press got at the John Edwards townhall meeting in Parma yesterday. The eggplant lasagna was hot and especially cheesy; the cheesecake brownies were yummy. The townhall meeting itself was fun; Dennis Kucinich walked right by me. He's awfully short.

Later that night (after 5 1/2 hours of waiting to get my upgraded, all-access credential, which leaves me with no great confidence in the efficiency of the Secret Service), just before the debate, we stumbled upon this abandoned feast between the media center and the inner sanctum where the party staff were hunkered down. It looked like dinner: salad, rice, chicken ... and four kinds of cheesecake, barely touched. I had the strawberry swirl cheesecake (thumbs up). I thought seriously of coming back after the debate to rescue these poor, neglected desserts.

The media center, during the debate. You can see on the second floor the Budweiser signs where the Anheuser-Busch food court was. They included such odd dishes as brown lentils, red cabbage sauerkraut-type stuff, and boiled potatoes. And, beer and ice cream bars, which cleaned out so quickly I didn't get any. I also saw the food table for the Edwards family and staff, which was provided by La Dolce Vita in Little Italy. I didn't get a picture but I had a nice chat with the La Dolce Vita staff guy.

I had to skip out of the debate early to escort some Fox News crew to the freaky cold rally site by the Botanical Gardens via bus. There, the press file (where the reporters type up their stories) was not only stocked with delicious hot chocolate but also chicken fingers, dessert, and these pigs-in-blankets.

So I ate well and had lots of fun in my stint helping out the Edwards campaign, even though I was exhausted this morning.

More pictures:

Monday, October 4, 2004

The Debate Hits Home

One week later, and I'm finally feeling better. Driving my recovery is the fact that my esteemed alma mater/employer is hosting tomorrow's highly anticipated Vice Presidential debate. Case is all a'flutter, overflowing with news crews, people with Very Important Nametags, and flowerpots that just appeared over the weekend. To partake in this remarkable Historic Event (and because I got the day off anyway!), I signed up to be a volunteer. Here are my thoughts, food-wise.

Saturday, Day 1: Woke up at the ungodly hour of 7 am to go to my first shift, only to be told to just "hang out" until 9 because the credentialing process was pushed back. I had high hopes for the hospitality table. Free food is always good, but it's especially good at a college, and I figured it would be even better for a national event. Alas, no. It wasn't so much the coffee (which was quite fine), or the selection of flavored cream cheese (four!). Rather, it was the big fat (and disgustingly slow) fly that buzzed around the pastries. From whence it came, I know not: it did not have any proper credentials. Insects, frankly, are an appetite killer. I had to dig to the bottom of the danish pile before I felt comfortable having breakfast.

Rest of the morning spent signing in other volunteers, eating free chips and cookies and soda, and feeling jealous of way cooler assignments helping out CNN or CBS.

Sunday, Day 2: Came in at noon and had the challenging task of updating the names on an Excel spreadsheet. But I did get pizza for lunch: 2 corners of a square pizza! Before long I got re-assigned to work at the driveway gate where I got a radio (to confirm everyone trying to drive inside), a newfound sense of power, and no food at all. Someone working with the Commission for Presidential Debates has Domino's Pizza delivered and walk off without offering me any. Newfound sense of power fizzles.

Monday, Day 3: Volunteer HQ gives me a choice - help Eurovision or help the Kerry Edwards campaign? No hesitation here! I skip off to help the Kerry Edwards press staff with a song in my heart. I get a tour of the debate facilities, including the dark, draped debate hall, the vast media center, for the 1,800 press people, and "Spin Alley," where various personalities make pronouncement to TV stations about how it all went. The lil' old gym cleans up real nice. No food, or beer, set up yet in the media hospitality lounge provided by sponsor Anheuser-Busch, though. And I was so busy I didn't get to eat until 2, when we dropped by Jake's Sandwich Shop somewhere near Public Square for a BLT. I'm ashamed to say I forgot to recommend Slyman's for lunch.

Tomorrow I help with the Edwards people again, which means going to Parma for his town hall meeting. Unfortunatly this means I won't be able to go to the Pancake Breakfast the students are holding in the morning, where Kevin Bacon is (supposed) to appear.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Medicinal Liquor

I'b sick. I hab a cold. *cough cough* Same wid Foodgoat. Dis is what habbens when you go to a kid's birthday party in Sebtember.

Calling Dr. McGillicuddy! Forget Nyquil when Dr. McGillicuddy can make a house call. We each took a couple of swigs from a bottle of Dr. McGillicuddy's Vanilla Schnapps last night. For a sweet liqueur it sure can clear out your sinuses. And I was out in 15 minutes. At 10:30.